Learning how to shoot long shots in pool can be very difficult, especially when you’re first learning how to play. It’s hard to find the exact spot you need to hit to make the ball go in the pocket. Even after finding the correct spot to hit on the object ball, there’s still a long-distance between the cue ball and object ball, which means your margin for error is lower.
If you’re slightly off one way or the other, you can end up missing the shot. Today, I’m going to cover a couple of tips and drills that I learned when I was a beginner that made long shots way easier.
Hold Your Stick Properly
The most important part of being able to shoot long shots consistently is holding your stick properly.
When you hold your stick properly, your stick is more stable, which allows for more control and accuracy.
If you don’t hold your stick properly, it will be very difficult to follow the other steps illustrated in this tutorial.
Here is a video that explains the proper holding of your stick:
Personally, for beginners, I recommend the closed bridge explained in the video. When you’re learning, having an open bridge can cause you to lift your stick during your shot. This will cause inconsistency.
Shoot Ball In A Straight Line
Before you can learn how to make a long shot in billiards, you need to make sure you can accurately shoot a ball from one end of the table to the other.
When I was learning, one of the drills my parents had me do was shoot the ball into a pocket over and over from the opposite end of the table.
After doing that repeatedly, I would mark a spot on a cushion with the pool chalk and try to hit the exact spot of the chalk mark. I would repeat this until I could do it consistently. A pocket is wide so you can be a little off but hitting a specific point is a little more precise.
To consistently make long shots in billiards, your shot has to be very accurate and consistent.
Shooting drills are not fun for most people but as with any sport, drills are what help you improve.
Make Sure You’re Shooting The Ball Dead Center
When shooting pool as a beginner, you always want to hit the cue ball dead center.
As you become more advanced, there are reasons and situations to hit different parts of the cue ball. However, hitting low, high, etc. on the cue ball as a beginner will cause the tip of your stick to slide off of the ball more often.
Hitting left or right on the cue ball can cause the ball to go left or right of where you’re aiming, especially if your stick has high deflection.
By hitting the ball dead center, the ball moves predictably and consistently. This is the best option for someone still learning the basics of pool.
When you don’t hit the ball dead center it can throw off your shot and lead to missed shots. If you’re unaware that you aren’t hitting the center of the ball, it will be hard for you to understand why you’re missing shots.
This makes it hard for you to make corrections and get better at the game.
One way to check to see if you’re hitting the ball dead center is to set the ball in front of a diamond. The diamonds are the 18 dots that go around the table, there’s 3 in between each pocket.
After setting the ball in front of a diamond, shoot the ball at the diamond at the opposite end or side of the table. This will cause you to shoot in a straight line. After shooting, don’t move your stick.
The goal is to get the ball to come back and hit the tip of your stick.
If the ball comes back to the right side of the stick it means you shot on the right side of the cue ball or you missed the diamond.
If it comes back on the left side, it means you shot on the left side of the cue ball or you missed the diamond.
Aim Your Shot With Your Stick
Now that you can shoot straight and hit the ball dead center, the next step is to figure out how to aim your shot.
This is something that can be used on shots from any distance but it is most helpful on long shots. Long shots have to be very precise.
You remember in the first section “Shooting Ball In A Straight Line” we practiced shooting shots straight in the pocket. We’re going to do the same thing but without hitting it in.
So, for example, right now you’re standing behind the cue ball shooting at the 9-ball.
You should walk over to the 9-ball and aim as if you were going to shoot the ball straight in the target pocket. Don’t just eyeball it, you should lean over like you are about to shoot the 9-ball in the pocket.
Now, put your stick as close to the spot on the 9-ball as you can without touching it.
This will show you exactly where you need to hit to make the 9-ball in the desired pocket. This means that if the cue ball hits that exact spot the 9-ball will go in the desired pocket.
Now without losing the spot with your eyes, walk back to the cue ball and aim the cue ball at the exact spot where you made a mental mark.
If you can hit that exact spot with the cue ball, the ball will go in the desired pocket. However, aiming your stick straight for that spot will make you miss in some cases because you have to account for the width of the ball. So the center of your shot doesn’t always line up with that spot.
Putting It All Together To Make The Long Shot
When shooting your shot, make sure that you think about each step.
Hold your stick properly so that your stick doesn’t wabble around.
Shoot in a straight line.
Hit the cue ball dead center so you don’t accidentally throw off your shot.
You need to aim your shot, don’t trust your visualization abilities, especially as a beginner. As you shoot more often and get better at billiards, you will be able to shoot more shots without walking over and aiming them. However, when you’re a beginner, it is good to aim every shot even if it isn’t a long shot.
Honestly, even if the ball is sitting right in front of the pocket, you should still walk over and aim it. This will keep you from missing easy shots. In your mind, it feels like it will be easy. So, you’ll just want to shoot it, without aiming, but many times beginners will miss these shots because they were overconfident.
While this is the exact process I went through to learn how to shoot long shots in billiards, it still takes a lot of practice. If you don’t make it the first time, try again.
Shooting pool isn’t easy. It takes tons of practice and repetition just like any skill.
I hope this article was helpful.
Let me know how this guide has helped your shot and if you know any other good drills for beginners, please leave a comment below!